January 30, 2020

Olive Oil & Oleocanthal

Oleocanthal, Olive Oil

Chronic inflammation is a critical element in many diseases such as cancer, diabetes, degenerative joint diseases, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. Some studies indicate that food can play a very important role in the development or prevention of inflammation. Products that are traditionally used to fight inflammation, in some cases, are associated with side effects. Therefore, natural methods to control inflammation have been sought and it is at this point that the Mediterranean diet and its star product, oil, enter.

It has been shown that the traditional Mediterranean diet confers some protection against chronic diseases by causing the compounds that cause inflammation not to act with such force, and this has been attributed, in part, to the high consumption of virgin olive oil. We have already seen that this product contains numerous phenolic compounds that exert potent anti-inflammatory actions. Among them all recent research has focused on oleocanthal whose properties are similar to those of ibuprofen, one of the most widely used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Discovery of the Oleocanthal

It was Dr. Gary Beauchamp, an American scientist and biologist, who discovered the oleocanthal thanks to his work at the Monell Chemical Sense Center in Philadelphia, an organoleptic laboratory that is responsible for testing substances and quantifying their sensory characteristics.

In one of the congresses he attended in Sicily he was invited to a tasting of extra virgin olive oil. When he tried it, he noticed a spicy taste that was familiar to him and reminded him of the substance he was working with at the time in his laboratory, liquid ibuprofen.

The name of the molecule comes from the spicy flavor that characterizes this oil:

  • Oil comes from Latin and means oil.
  • Acanth is a Greek word meaning thorn (from itching).
  • Al, is the prefix of the chemical compound aldehyde.

Oleocanthal and osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a disease that affects pets quite frequently. It is characterized by a progressive degradation of cartilage and other joint tissues, such as subchondral bone and synovial membranes. Current treatments do not change the course of the disease and are even associated with adverse effects, so researchers believe that oleocanthal can become a potential therapeutic weapon for the treatment of this degenerative disease.

Oleocanthal and Alzheimer’s

Its anti-inflammatory properties are not the only benefit of oleocanthal. This phenol has recently been linked to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease, a neurodegenerative disease characterized by the accumulation of β-amyloid (Aβ) and tau proteins in the brain. In this case, oleocanthal acts by controlling the levels of said protein.

Oleocanthal and cancer

Today, thanks to advances in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, pets have the opportunity to be treated satisfactorily for this disease. In this case, oleocantahal also offers promising and spectacular results since it has been shown in vitro that this phenol is capable of destroying cancer cells in 30 minutes without harming healthy cells.

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